“Steampunk” Art or Atrocity ?


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One of the latest controversial raves in the vintage collectible arena without doubt is the pseudo-realistic  birth child of artist, and collectors called “Steampunk”.  To the traditional nostalgia  collector, first glance at such items borne by marrying a vintage, or antique, otherwise desirable keepsake to a modern piece of technology can seem preposterous, and even sacrilegious.

However, (though my imagination is lacking in its hypothetical example to say the least),  there would likely be something awe-striking about seeing an 18th century hand-pump connected to a Lazy- Susan with a dish rack built on top, and a brass plate attached that reads:   “Benjamin Franklin’s Dishwasher”

I’m just saying!!!

Nonetheless, even if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there is a much deeper root of intrigue at work here than just that of infatuation to weird science, and back-wood ingenuity.

Though becoming trendy among the baby boomer techno-yuppies in the late 1980’s and early 90’s;  “Steampunk”  had already gathered a full head of steam, hissing and bellowing a wedding vow commemorative of the joining of yesterdays inventions to today’s innovations as early as the 1960’s, as many related works etched in pen reveal.

The actual term however was coined by K.W. Jeter, the science fiction author of  “Morlock Night” in 1979.  In the ensuing letter written to “Locus” Sci-Fi magazine, and published April of 1987, this is clear, and documented.

Dear Locus, Enclosed is a copy of my 1979 novel Morlock Night; I’d appreciate your being so good as to route it Faren Miller, as it’s a prime piece of evidence in the great debate as to who in “the Powers/Blaylock/Jeter fantasy triumvirate” was writing in the “gonzo-historical manner” first. Though of course, I did find her review in the March Locus to be quite flattering.

Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like “steampunks”, perhaps..

All three Authors mentioned by Jeters, including himself, had released books around the same time fashioned on the resourcefulness of  Sci- Fi greats such as ‘H.G Wells”,  and  “Jules Verne “. Although Jeter did coin the phrase, it is well-known that the trend began earlier as afore-mentioned many works released, actually, from 1959 until today  broach the enthusiasm toward the craze.  Below are a few of those books listed:

Titus Alone, 1959  by Mervyn Peake

Worlds of Imperium , 1962 by Keith Laumer

Warlord of the air, 1971, y Michael Moorcock

And,  Queen Victoria’s Bomb,  1967, by Ronald W. Clark, just to name a few.

Ultimately, as many musicians go branded under the title of ; “Steampunks” we know that this trend not only entails Vintage Hybrid Arts and Collectibles, but also brandishes its own fashion statement. The preferred wardrobe for those who consider themselves mainstream

“Steampunkers” is that of the British Victorian era,  as are the most desired Antique items used to play the role of the Groom to be joined to the Bride in modern quixotic artful marriages which could be called a “Bridge Across Forever”.

Though I must admit, I’m a little old-fashioned about the desecration of Antique items to create an extension to the desired imaginative result of ones fabulous fancy, I must also admit…I’m intrigued.

As a long time picker, and a one time avid collector, my creative wheels have spun round and round from first I saw of these improbable unions…     If only I’d of had such proclivity as those who join these long-lost agglomerations, while I still  possessed the many broken, partial or incomplete wounded soldiers of yesteryear…  I  may have been known as the “Marriage Chaplain of Quantum-Punk”    But, more likely just another accumulator of Quantum Junk!!! But, I’m good with that…really…say…

I wonder what I can do with this broken steam engine? Humm….

See the Video Discussion with  Dan Von Hoyle here:

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4 Comments

  1. i’ve just recently discovered steampunk, have been reading some of the magazine online. i’d like to pick up a couple of the first books to come out and a couple of the recent ones to see how all this works. it’s an intriguing idea. i’d love to write a story set in victorian england in steampunk style, but need to do the research first! glad to see ya back ;)

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